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Pedro Santana Lopes

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Pedro Santana Lopes
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Pedro Santana Lopes

Order: 14th Prime Minister of Portugal
(since the Portuguese Constitution of 1976)
Term of Office 29 June, 2004 - 12 March, 2005
Predecessor: José Manuel Durão Barroso
Successor: José Sócrates
Date of Birth June 29, 1956
Place of Birth: Lisbon
Political Party: Social Democratic

Pedro Miguel de Santana Lopes (born June 29, 1956) is a Portuguese politician, Mayor of Lisbon and former Prime Minister of Portugal (2004–2005).

Contents

Biography

Santana Lopes was born in Lisbon, and graduated in Law from the University of Lisbon, where he was leader of the students Union. He joined the Portuguese Social Democratic Party (PSD) in 1976, and has remained a member ever since.

In 1979, he became legal advisor to Prime Minister Francisco Sá Carneiro, whom he present himself as a follower for all his political life.

In 1986, he became Assistant State Secretary to Prime Minister Cavaco Silva, an office he left the next year to lead to PSD list to the European Parliament, where he remained for two years of his five-year-teem.

In 1991, Aníbal Cavaco Silva calls him to the office of Secretary of State for Culture. Leaving office, he became president of Sporting Clube de Portugal, and later the mayor of Figueira da Foz (the only time that he has ever completed a term in office) and then of Lisbon. During this period he also earned a living as a sports and political commentator; in 1998, he announced his withdrawal from politics, following a comical sketch in private TV station which presented him and his private life in a very unfavourable light.

After three unsuccessful attempts to become leader of his party, Santana Lopes finally rose to vice-president under José Manuel Durão Barroso, a man who had once called him “a mix of astrologer and sports commentator.” In early July 2004 Durão Barroso resigned from his duties as Prime Minister and party leader in order to be appointed President of the European Commission, and Santana Lopes became the head of the PSD. Because the PSD was the major partner in the coalition government at the time, Santana Lopes also inherited the post of Prime Minister, a position to which he was formally invited by president Jorge Sampaio on July 12 2004.

Prime Minister

Santana Lopes' leadership was made difficult by a number of inherited economic and political problems. When the PSD had first taken power, the country’s economy was in a poor state, with a rising government-spending deficit. The previous government (led by António Guterres of the Socialist Party) left with the country's economy in a poor state: “Portugal became the first country to breach the EU's ‘excessive deficit’ rule with a budget deficit of 4.4% of GDP in 2001, well above the 3% of GDP ceiling set by the EU's Stability and Growth Pact.” Economist Intelligence Unit 11th January 2005 (http://www.viewswire.com/index.asp?layout=display_print&doc_id=1667936966). The situation inherited by Santana Lopes was little better, as the previous government led by Barroso had been able to comply with European Union directives regarding the deficit only by the sale of state property. Santana Lopes was also unable to gain a popular reputation as a competent Prime Minister, being seen as a skilled politician with no talent for government. His unusual rise to power, as Barroso's successor rather than by election, contributed to these difficulties, as he was regarded by many, and repeateadly criticised by many columnists, to be an illegitimate Prime Minister. This was because, although his appointment was in fact legitimate within the framework of the Portuguese Constitution, he hadn't been elected a Member of Parliament (as he was by then the elected Mayor of Lisbon).

Santana Lopes' short career as Prime Minister began inauspiciously, with some members of government being shuffled between departments on the same afternoon as the government was being inaugurated. His Minister of Defence Paulo Portas was taken by surprise during the ceremony when he was announced as the Minister for National Defence and Sea Affairs. Portas' look of surprise when the change was announced was broadcast live on television.

Santana Lopes' period in office was also marked by chaos in the allocation of teachers to schools (more than a month after classes officially started, and resulting from alleged incompetence of the IT provider (designated during the previous Government); the problem was swiftly solved by another small provider), and by claims of pressure exerted on the press, including arranging for the replacement of the information director of the public television channel RTP, and pressing private television channel TVI to tone down the criticism of him by a political commentator, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a former leader of his own party, who consequently left the channel.

The beginning of the end of the Santana Lopes Administration occurred on November 30, when President Sampaio announced that he was going to dissolve the Portuguese Parliament and call early elections for February, after Henrique Chaves, a Santana Lopes loyalist, resigned after four days as minister for sport, claiming that Santana Lopes lacked "loyalty and truth".

Santana Lopes announced on December 11 the resignation of the government. This resignation did not, however, have any immediate practical effect, since the government continued in a caretaker role until the election. He went on to lead his party to their worst result in parliamentary elections in Portugal; the election of 20 February was won by the Socialist Party led by José Sócrates, with whom Santana Lopes had debated every Sunday for one year on the public television station, RTP. Despite expectations that he would follow his coalition partner, Paulo Portas, and resign on election night, he only announced that he would leave the leadership two days later.

Two days after the inauguration of the new government, he returned to complete his term as Mayor of Lisbon. He is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.

Personal

Santana Lopes is divorced, and has five children by three ex-wives.

Gaffes

Santana Lopes is known for his Quaylesque gaffes, which include:

  • claiming that the non-existent Chopin violin concerto was his favourite piece of classical music;
  • sending a postcard to Brazilian author Machado de Assis (who died in 1908);
  • calling a press conference to announce that he was being threatened when in fact he had received a mailing for a book titled Cuidado com os rapazes ("Watch out for the boys");
  • announcing that he would leave political life as a protest against criticism, and then changing his mind after a few days;
  • missing a formal dinner during a State visit in order to attend a fashion show;
  • postponing the inauguration of some of his vice-ministers in order to attend a wedding.

Bibliography

Co-author with José Manuel Durão Barroso: Sistema de Governo e Sistema Partidário, Livraria Bertrand, 1980.

Os Sistemas de Governos Mistos e o actual Sistema Português, Difel Editorial, 2001.

Preceded by:
José Manuel Durão Barroso
Prime Minister of Portugal
20042005
Succeeded by:
José Sócrates
de:Pedro Santana Lopes

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